What training drives more effective teams?

We have invested a lot of time and effort into training our staff on their core competencies but still feel like our teams aren’t running as effectively as possible. What other things have people tried that has helped with performance?

@mike72 -

Could you expand on what you mean when you say ‘performance?’ I think some context can help us brainstorm some ideas that can help your team run more effectively!

Best -

I agree with Sahra. The context of performance is important.

That said though “training” is possibly a clue to your question. What was the context of the training and the ongoing re-enforcement?

Some people will do well with training and others will need coaching. In my opinion coaching is more effective.

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Hey Mike,

Great Question. I believe I understand where you are coming from (but please correct me if I misunderstood).

When someone develops a skill (any skill) their application of that skill will vary from day to day. This is why sports competitions are so compelling, because we want to know who is going to win on that day. This is also why some players or teams can ‘choke’ and lose a game they were supposed to win ‘on paper’. Without this variability in performance we would just rank all the teams and issue the championship trophy without a game needing to be played.

Essentially, even if some is technically proficient and sufficiently motivated, they still don’t always perform at their best. So as leaders the question becomes; how can we help our teams function at their best more often, and how can we help them recover more quickly when performance or productivity declines?

We have come across this with many teams (across differing industries) and the solution is often a combination of finding out what is making people come away from their “Peak Performance” and working out strategies to bring them back in line. Walking away from the situation, body posture, etc.

In fact, we recently developed a workshop dedicated to it. It’s called “Professional Resilience” and it helps each participant understand why their individual performance varies and what they can specifically do to improve their performance, especially during periods of high stress and apathy.

This workshop has received really great feedback because each person builds a personalised performance plan that they can use immediately to start operating at their best more often…who doesn’t want that!

I’ll add the link below if you want more details. If you have any specific questions please feel free to reach out to me directly at andrew@pillarleaders.com.

Link: Professional Resilience: Practical Strategies for Performance Under Stress Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

Hope that helps,

Hi @mike72 - I’d also be interested to hear more about what you tried in terms of training, what your expectations were, and where you felt it fell flat. I’m in the process leading up to implementing internal trainings and am focusing on two things in particular at the moment. One is thinking through the pre- and post-training measurements and making sure I am asking the right questions and measuring the right things. The second thing I’m focusing on is how to really get the trainings embedded through booster content, reminders, and just generally trying to understand how people form habits and if I can help create an environment that makes habit-forming environment so skills can be better retained and used.

Hi @mike72,

Without knowing too much about the context, creating an aligned, high performing team is usually a slow burn, but incredibly worthwhile.

The trick is to focus on performance and health. Most organisations focus on the former and expect the latter.

There is some really compelling research which looks at the ROI of either approach. For example, if you focus on performance alone then the ‘uplift’ is 1x. If you focus on health alone then the uplift is 2x. If you focus on both, then the ROI is 3x.

So the trick is to focus more strongly on health initially but closely followed by performance, which includes things like team purpose, vision, and critical success factors.

So the ‘how’ needs to be at least as equally important as the ‘what’.

Emeritus MIT Professor and organisational development heavyweight Edgar Schein believes that:

“All organizational problems are fundamentally problems involving human interactions and processes. No matter what technical, financial, or other matters may be involved, humans are always involved in the design and implementation of them.”

This diagram shows what focus a team should have after they have worked hard on the ‘how’.

The how is about relationships, trust, group process/dialogue skills and psychological safety, among other things.

I hope that helps.


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This is great insight and detail! Thanks for sharing. Curious if you can point to the ROI research that you reference. I would love to learn more about the underlying research.

It has been my experience over the years that it takes time and effort to build psychological safety within a group. If that term is new to anyone in this context, there is a great brief Ted Talk by Amy Edmundson that is worth checking out.

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Hi @Josh,

Sure. The research is from a body of work by McKinsey and summarised in their book ‘Beyond Performance’.

Here is a summary article of some of the research: Dropbox - Organizational health - A fast track to performance improvement.pdf - Simplify your life

And another one (the original summary article I believe): Dropbox - The hidden value of organizational health.pdf - Simplify your life

Here is the Team Success Model we use which is an adaptation from Lencioni - so the performance and health piece is covered off nicely.

All the best,


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@Phillip_Ralph: Thanks so much for posting these. I’m brand new to this forum and to people geeking - as a former program manager (supervisor) and now recruiting/training manager for my NPO - but I think this direction is exactly what my company needs. We’ve been highly successful in our field, have grown exponentially in the past 5 years and now starting to see cracks in the matrix. Can you recommend how I can get the training I need to be a better resource on these issues, and help make a difference?

Hi Anne-Marie,

I’m pleased my response provided some value to you.

In terms of formal training, unfortunately, there aren’t too many packaged programs to address this type of work. The best fit would be a degree in OD that has a heavy bias on process work. But to be honest, this type of work requires a highly skilled individual. I see many organisations take a DIY approach which is often half-baked. Even yesterday I was having a chat with a HR professional who had designed a series of short sessions she was going to run, and a few questions later, it was clear it will be a superficial approach. I’m biased of course.

In the meantime, I would explore getting an experienced consultant in who will do the work at lower rates given your NPO status.

I’m not sure what country you’re in so let me know and I may be able to make some recommendations from my network.